By Julie R Butler
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, beer is the most popular on a global scale. And when it comes to all beverages, it ranks #3, behind water and tea. So it should come as no surprise that cerveza is a favorite here in Mexico, too. But of course, when you add in the flavors of Mexico, a regular chela is raised to a whole new level of wonderful: behold the magnificent michelada!
Micheladas: Beating the Heat and the Hair of the Dog
Nothing beats a cold, salty, spicy, citrus-y michelada served in a frosted mug to cut through the sweltering Mexican midday heat. Whether you’re in a graceful patio in the heart of the city, on a hacienda porche in the countryside, or languishing in a lawn chair at the beach, this cerveza preparada is the perfect cocktail because it’s tangy, bubbly, and oh so refreshing – and you’re not even expected to wait until the cocktail hour to drink it! Oh, and it’s great for hangovers, too.
Michelada, or Just Chelada?
According to Spanish Wikipedia, the simplest michelada recipe starts with a frosted a beer mug or glass, then you moisten the lip with lime juice and salt it, squeeze more lime juice into the glass, and fill the rest with your favorite cerveza. But this formula isn’t considered a true michelada by most Mexicans, who would argue that it’s just a regular old chelada if it doesn’t include savory or spicy sauce – or isn’t rimmed with tajín.
The Best Micheladas
The best micheladas have multiple types of salsa in them: salsa inglesa, salsa soya, salsa Maggi, and salsa picante, maybe even several different kinds of hot sauce. Plus, there might also be black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or some other type of peppers. Of course, there must be lime juice, but you can also add orange or another type of fruit juice too, if you like. There’s no need to be shy with the tajín. And few slices of cucumber thrown in are always a nice addition. As for ice cubes, well, some would consider that a cerveza gringa. In my humble opinion, if you start with a frosty mug and an ice-cold beer in the first place, you’re good to go.
Other Cervezas Preparadas
As with chelada, there are other types of cervezas preparadas that often get lumped in with micheladas. Here are a couple of them:
Chavela drinks can have the same ingredients as a michelada – or not – but they will always include something tomato-y, such as tomato juice, V8, Camaronazo, or Clamato (this the tomato and clam juice one is also poetically called an Ojo Rojo). They’re usually served on the rocks with a carrot or celery stick, which makes them pretty much Mexican Bloody Marys. Another popular garnish for them is shrimp.
The Negro y Marron combines beer, Clamato, lime juice, and tequila, with a salt rim and salsa piquante to taste.
Chamochela drinks are for those who like their spicy with a touch of sweetness. For this cocktail, you have your beer, your lime juice, and your tajín, plus chamoy, often with a garnish of candied tamarind.
From Ordinary to Extraordinary
While what makes a michedada a michelada may be up for debate, what’s clear is that all these delicious and refreshing cold beer cocktails really show off the way Mexican culture can turn something ordinary into something magnificent and extraordinary!